Washington State Dems Are Endorsing Dow, But Where Are the Locals?

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Why is he still alone on the local election stage?
Over the last week, almost every Democratic member of Washington's Congressional delegation or statewide office holders has endorsed Dow Constantine in the race for King County Executive. As of today, the list includes both U.S. Senators, four Representatives, Governor Christine Gregoire, and a few other state officials. But while the state party and its marquee names might be jumping on the wagon for Constantine, notably absent is any sign of support from the people who won the votes he'll need to get past Hutchison in the general election.

Fred Jarrett, Larry Phillips and Ross Hunter received 116,704 votes between them, according to the latest numbers from King County Elections. Constantine won 89,515 and Hutchison took 109,699. While Jarrett, Phillips and Hunter are all Democrats, Jarrett used to belong to the GOP and he and Hunter are supported by a far more moderate Eastside base. Hutchison won both of their districts. Constantine, once referred to at a land-owners meeting in Issaquah as Chairman Dow for his support of strict regulations on rural property uses, is farther to the left on the political spectrum.

The race is officially non-partisan, as decided on by King County voters last year, but state Democratic Party chair Dwight Pelz has no intention of letting the race actually run that way. "This is a partisan race; Susan is a conservative to right-wing Republican," Pelz said by phone the day after the primary. "Unless she made a mistake with her checkbook, she's a Republican."

Accordingly, Pelz said, the party will be actively supporting Constantine. And having people like Christine Gregoire and Patty Murray support his campaign can't hurt, but what he really needs is the votes of his once-competitors. And the only communication we've heard from any of them since the primary are e-mails from Larry Phillips and Ross Hunter requesting donations to help alleviate their campaign debt. As one politically-minded acquaintance noted on a recent morning, "where's the unity press conference?"

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